Christmas Traditions English and French

Every family has their own Christmas traditions. This being our first Christmas in France, we have the chance to mix new French traditions in with our usual English ones. We are looking forward to family arriving on the 20th and school finishing so that Christmas can really begin. We will catch the last of the Christmas markets, come home to mulled wine and hot chocolate, and eat far too many mince pies (which we are missing hugely and hope that family are bringing far too many boxes to keep us going throughout Winter!) Here are some of our family traditions and new French ones that we will be adding to our Christmas.

Christmas Cake and Bûche de Noël
Back in London we would always have a Christmas Cake. Andrew has an Aunt who makes the most delicious Christmas Cake and last year it didn't last long in our house! We spent an afternoon recently making our cake with the kids. I'm not going to lie, in October my parents bought us a cake kit from the UK. The laziness is justified however as I'm having trouble finding simple baking ingredients here in France like dark brown sugar. It has yet to be finished which we will do just before Christmas day. Traditionally in France people have a Bûche de Noël (chocolate log) for dessert and we have decided to support our local village bakery and order one. It's not something we traditionally have but I doubt anyone will complain about an extra pudding on the table, especially a chocolate one!

The Smelly Sprout and Boréal Express
In our household 'The Smelly Sprout' by Allan Plenderleith is one of our favourite family Christmas books. It's all about a sprout that gets thrown out of the kitchen because no one wants him on their Christmas menu and he travels around to find a home. Reuben loves the book and we also have the interactive app which is great for Jacob. This year Reuben got given the 'Boréal Express' ('The Polar Express' by Chris Van Allsberg) in French which he sat down to look at as soon as he got given it. It's a book I remember from my childhood and is a lovely Christmas story. There is also a film version which I love but Reuben finds a bit scary. 

Jingle Bells and Il est né, le divin Enfant 
Christmas either love them or hate them! We love them...but only in December! 'Jingle Bells' is a favourite with the boys and being a music teacher I have plenty of bells for them to jingle all the way! Reuben used to sing it at his nursery in London along with a new one that he taught the tune of Frère Jacques...

Father Christmas, Father Christmas
He got stuck, He got stuck
Coming down the chimney, Coming down the chimney
What bad luck, What bad luck!

Being in a choir I have had the opportunity to learn some French Christmas carols and sing traditional English carols in French. 'Il est né, le divin Enfant' is a traditional French carol. I recognised the melody when we first sung it and the carol is a good test of my reading French as it is sung quite fast! We will add it to our list of carols as I'm sure it is one that will pop up yearly in France.

Christmas Tree (Le Sapin de Noël)
We always get our Christmas tree the first weekend in December. We've already shown you the decorations we made and here is finally a picture of our tree! It's been pulled down by Jacob three times already (he can't resist the decorations) but so far has held up well! My mum likes to buy a little decoration each year for the boys to add to the collection. 'Le Sapin de Noël' is traditionally the most common decoration here in French homes also and they are popping up all over villages with decorations on. In Reuben's school each classroom has decorated a tree, and the whole village has been invited to take part in the decoration of the large village tree outside the Mairie on Sunday. We can't wait!

Becky x

This post was written as part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs 'Christmas in Different Lands' series. For 24 days in December bloggers from all over the world are sharing their different Christmas traditions and you can also link up your own Christmas tradition post. Come and join in the Christmas fun!

La Famille Brown


  1. Wonderful post, Becky! Thanks for sharing it with MKB. I love your version of Father Christmas being stuck in the chimney :)

    1. Thanks Natalie! The Father Christmas version is great for kids. At Reuben's nursery they started off singing it slowly and then got faster an faster!

  2. Very interesting, thanks for sharing! Have the smelly sprout found a home? LOL

    1. Thanks Laura! The sprout finds a home inside the belly of a mouse to help him hibernate throughout winter!

  3. Fun comparisons! I don't doubt your family will truly enjoy the buche de Noel :)


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